The study — conducted in Spain using people with an already-high risk of heart problems — found that the diet, when supplemented with extra-virgin olive oil and nuts, decreased the risk of heart attacks and strokes by 30%, ABC News reports.
The report in The New England Journal of Medicine indicates that the Mediterranean Diet can be a first line of defense for preventing heart disease. The research compared the high-risk patients with a group eating a standard low-fat diet. Because of this, the researchers said it’s unknown how much the diet could help non-high-risk people.
The researchers studied 7,447 people between the ages of 55 and 80. The people were assigned to one of three diet groups studying the impact of a standard low-fat diet, a Mediterranean Diet with additional olive oil and a Mediterranean diet with extra mixed nuts. Most of the participants were females with some form of risk factor, such as smoking, hypertension or obesity.
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